(This article was originally published on 3/06/2018 and updated on 7/27/2021)
There’s no denying that the main goal of any salesperson is to sell. But beyond closing deals, there’s a list of other tasks so long it feels like they could stretch into next year. Call new leads and qualify them. Call existing customers to ensure they’re still happy. Do demos for new customers, then somehow still find time to make it to that meeting with your sales leader this afternoon, and prepare for that big presentation tomorrow. But before you tell yourself that there’s just not enough time in the day to get everything done, try out these six tips to stop wasting time and start increasing your sales productivity.
But first, what do we mean by sales productivity?
What is sales productivity?
Sales productivity is a measure of how efficient your sales efforts are. It helps you gauge whether the amount of effort put into your sales cycle was worth the outcome. The goal of increasing sales productivity is to hit your targets while decreasing the amount of time, effort, and money it takes to meet them.
Productivity is one of the biggest challenges faced by almost every sales team. Couple that with a disjointed sales process and a lack of alignment with the marketing team, and you’re asking for trouble.
To streamline your sales performance, you need to eliminate any non-essential tasks from your daily routine. Whether you’re a go-getter or a procrastinator by nature, there is almost always room to increase productivity at work. If you’re not sure how to get started, try some (or all!) of the six tips below.
1. Stop multitasking
Multitasking seems like a way to do more, faster. But in reality, it’s a good way to do a lot of things poorly. Have you ever seen an Olympic athlete give a stellar on-camera interview mid-competition? No. To perform their best, the athlete needs to focus entirely on the task at hand.
Sales is no different. If you want something done well, it requires your full-fledged attention. What sales activities are critical to building your pipeline and closing deals? Clock time in your calendar to complete these activities, and fiercely protect this time – no interruptions, no procrastinating – just do it. Focusing on the task at hand, fully, will help you perfect each facet of the job, allowing you to increase your performance and get the job done sooner, without cutting corners.
2. Stop improvising
If you fail to prepare, you’re preparing to fail. When it comes to sales, preparation is necessary. If you’re a sales rep that chooses to “wing” every sales call, you’re not setting yourself up for success. Every good sales rep should have their value prop pitch dialed in before presenting to a real life prospect, otherwise the call is likely to be a waste of time for everyone involved. Role play, repetition, and sales coaching are just a few of the key steps to take before even arranging that first call.
Whether you’re introducing your value proposition to a new lead, exchanging information to determine fit, or presenting a final proposal, you need to be on top of your game. Without understanding your client, having some background information on their business, or even reviewing what you’ve discussed with them in the past, you can miss key talking points and forget to bring up elements of your product or service that could positively impact their business.
Do your research and prepare talking points before going on a call or into a meeting. It will save you time, help you to better qualify your leads, and ultimately shorten your sales cycle.
3. Qualify your leads
No matter how good you are at selling, or how convincing your business proposals may be, some leads will just never work out. There are way too many reps who spend way too much time chasing down unqualified leads, and it’s got to stop. Any time or energy spent on demos and follow ups could be better spent on prospects who might actually purchase your product and stick around for more than a few months. Spend time to get your lead qualification process perfect, so that you can stop diving head-first into every opportunity that shows the slightest bit of interest.
4. Streamline workflow with sales automation and technology
Currently, only 35.2% of a sales reps’ time goes toward functions related to selling, even though selling should take up the bulk of any salesperson’s time. The problem is, logging calls, writing emails, and prospecting are all necessary tasks that many sales reps do manually, which takes up a considerable amount of time.
When it comes to increasing your sales productivity and streamlining your day-to-day routine, the quickest route is to automate tasks. Most sales departments use a CRM for data management, which is great for automatically logging email communication, but don’t stop there! Optimize other rich features available in your CRM, like creating email templates, customizing dashboards to keep track of KPIs, creating lead distribution workflows, and integrating apps to enhance your lead scoring.
They may just seem like part of your daily routine, but manually writing follow-up emails, outbound emails, and scouring the internet for leads is incredibly time-consuming. Your CRM is a great primary tool, but explore other tools that can eliminate these non-essential manual tasks through automation. Tools like Campaign Monitor, which allows you to schedule automated emails to be sent based on your client’s actions, Hubspot, which helps you track open and click-through rates of your emails, and FindEmails, which generates lead lists can all increase your efficiency literally at the click of a button.
Sales automation isn’t the only technology that can help you improve your sales productivity. Proposal software streamlines your proposal process from start to finish, giving you control and visibility that helps you save time and increase efficiency. Without it, your sales process will be less predictable, less consistent, and far less scalable.
Leveraging the right tools will help you and your team find more time to focus on selling to your ideal customers. Good automation tools can empower sales reps to exceed their targets by increasing efficiency.
5. Get your sales and marketing teams aligned
Marketing and sales teams having a disdain for one another is a tale as old as time. In fact, in a survey done by Hubspot, 87% of the terms sales and marketing professionals used to describe each other were negative. Not exactly a fairytale friendship. And not the way it should be. After all, you’re on the same team, aren’t you?
In many offices, sales and marketing teams have little communication with each other, which creates a silo effect, but marketing and sales teams need to be aligned to efficiently work toward the same goals. If you want to increase your sales productivity, you need to see your marketing colleagues as allies, not enemies, in the battle for better business.
Here are a few things that your marketing team can provide to help save you time and make selling easier:
Data on where the strongest leads come from and what attracted them
Product videos to clearly explain how your product works
Blogs about new products or features and how they work
Case studies that highlight the success similar customers have had with your product/service
Demo webinar sessions
ROI reports that prove the value of your product through the success of your customers
Ebooks that provide advice, insights, or other in-depth information
Having sales enablement materials on hand during your sales conversations can help you highlight the value of your product or service, show the prospect that you understand their needs, and demonstrate your ability to provide a solution that works for them.
So, make friends with your marketing team, and you’ll increase your chances of closing more deals, faster.
6. Monitor Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) as sales productivity metrics
Tracking Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) can reveal trends in your selling, and provide you with insights into your sales activity – insights that can help you understand what strategies are working, what ones aren’t, and where your efforts are being wasted.
Measuring your sales in dollars is easy, but monitoring your sales efficiency or calculating your sales velocity can be a bit more challenging. KPIs allow you to track your productivity, gains, and results – so you can fine-tune your efforts. This could involve tracking your open rate of various outbound emails to determine which one works best, testing how many prospecting emails and calls you need to make to generate a generous pipeline of qualified leads, the length of your sales cycle, and your close ratio – essentially showing you, on a dashboard, how efficient your sales process is.
For example, say you’ve spent the last week telling prospects about a new feature you’ve added, hoping your pitch would help increase your close rate. At the end of the week, you check your CRM and see no increase in the number of prospects that turned into paying clients. Rather than wasting time pitching the same way and getting nowhere the following week, instead, you rework your pitch to focus on features each specific prospect may find valuable.
By tracking your performance regularly, you can focus on areas that need improvement, as need be, to meet organizational goals faster.
With all that free time, get selling
With a million things on your plate, finishing them all can feel impossible, and can lead to feeling discouraged and unmotivated. The secret to a smooth, effective closing process lies within your sales productivity.
Start by creating more time for yourself by narrowing your focus and planning ahead. Then, work smarter by leveraging the tools at your fingertips and collaborating with other departments. And finally, fine-tune your process with KPIs and frequent evaluations of your tactics and performance. Put it all together, and you’ll be setting yourself up for success. With more free time at your disposal, you can stop scrambling to put together that perfect proposal and focus on closing more deals.